Born in the south east of Ireland, Simon put his life-long love of football to good use when he started a successful independent blog in 2010. That opened up an alternative route to a career in journalism, and having had work published across a number of sites and publications, Simon joined the staff at Spotlight Sports Group in 2018.
The new 2018/19 Premier League season exploded into life at the weekend with 25 goal smashed in across 10 opening round fixtures.
There were first-game wins for each of last year’s top 6, while the league’s new boys Wolves, Cardiff and Fulham picked up just 1 point between them.
Elsewhere, new London based managers Unai Emery and Maurizio Sarri got off to highly contrasting starts in a defeat and victory against Manchester City and Huddersfield respectively, while Southampton and Burnley played out the only 0-0 draw of the weekend on Sunday.
But which players hit the ground running? Whose individual brilliance helped to drag their team to positive opening result?
Here is our first FST Premier League Team of the Week selection of the 2018/19 season.
Goalkeeper: Alex McCarthy (Southampton)
Journeyman goalkeeper Alex McCarthy took the gloves for the Saints on Sunday in their clash with last year’s surprise package Burnley. McCarthy produced an excellent performance between the sticks, making 6 saves in total during the contest to keep the Clarets at bay. No keeper who kept a clean sheet in the opening Premier League weekend made more saves than the 28-year old.
Right Back: Aaron Wan Bissaka (Crystal Palace)
Crystal Palace youth team product Aaron Wan Bissaka established himself as a first team contender at the back end of last season. On Saturday he continued where he left off, putting in a decisive and mature performance at right back to help shackle flying Fulham winger Ryan Sessegnon. The 20-year old even capped his display by laying on the game’s second goal for Wilfried Zaha.
Centre Back: John Stones (Man City)
Stones carried his fine England World Cup form into his first Premier League match of the season against Arsenal at the Emirates on Sunday. Champions City were largely dominant throughout the contest and Stones played a key part. The centre half completed 93% of his passes and had little trouble in keeping Aubameyang at arm’s length.
Centre Back: Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea)
German centre half Antonio Rudiger was a rock at the heart of the Chelsea defence in their convincing 3-0 win at Huddersfield. Rudiger won 3 tackles and regained possession 8 times during the match – more than any of his defensive teammates. The 25-year old already looks to be thriving under Maurizio Sarri’s tutelage.
Left Back: Luke Shaw (Man Utd)
So far, Luke Shaw’s Man Utd career has been a story of frustration and unfulfilled potential, yet there is hope that the 22-year old is starting to turn the corner. Shaw was superb in United’s 2-1 win over Leicester City on Friday evening, coupling incisive defending with lung-busting overlapping runs. Shaw even manged to grab the crucial second goal of the game for United, scoring for the first time in his senior career.
Midfield: Ruben Neves (Wolves)
Highly rated Portuguese midfielder Ruben Neves looked instantly comfortable at Premier League level at the weekend having strolled through an entire Championship campaign last season. Neves has scored more goals than any other player from outside the box in the top four English leagues since this time last year and he added another belter to his highlight reel with a beautiful free-kick against the Toffees. Neves also provided the inch-perfect cross that brought Wolves their second equalizer via the head of Raul Jimenez.
Midfield: Jorginho (Chelsea)
New Chelsea signing Jorginho found it tough going against Man City in last week’s Community Shield, but he looked much more like his old self against Huddersfield in the Premier League. The midfielder sat deep and was the conduit through which all good things flowed for Chelsea. The former Napoli start completed 94% of his passes and coolly dispatched a spot kick on the stroke of half time.
Midfield: Roberto Pereyra (Watford)
Argentine midfielder Roberto Pereyra has had his difficulties maintaining a high level of performance in his time at Watford. He generally produces his best in flashes only – something that can frustrate Hornet fans who know how good he can be. Against Brighton, Pereyra had one of his good days. The 27-year old helped himself to a double, the first of which was a fine, expertly controlled volley from the edge of the area.
Forward: Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
Liverpool put down a marker against West Ham on Sunday, rattling 4 goals past the hapless new-look Hammers in an Anfield rout. At the heart of everything was 26-year old Sadio Mane. The former Southampton winger scored twice and was a constant menace with his darting runs and close control. Mane has now scored in the opening fixture of the Premier League for 3 years running.
Forward: Richarlison (Everton)
Many thought Everton had massively overpaid when they agreed to sign Brazilian attacker Richarlison from Watford in a deal that could potentially cost them £50m. However, after just one game, the fee already looks a snip. Richarlison marked his competitive debut with two goals for the Toffees in their 2-2 draw at Wolves. Richarlison had failed to score with his last 53 shots for Watford, but it took him just 17 minutes to register for his new club.
Forward: Raheem Sterling (Man City)
Raheem Sterling looks set to prove his doubters wrong again this season if his opening fixture display is anything to by. Sterling was almost unplayable against Arsenal as he danced around the pitch, teasing Gunners defenders with his clever movement and close control. Sterling’s goal was a magical individual effort, a strike that brought his career total up to 50 in the Premier League.
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